Thursday, June 30, 2011

What Color Is Your Extinct Bird Or Dinosaur?


Someday, we may know what extinct birds and dinosaurs actually looked like.
The lab's powerful X-rays unveiled traces of pigment in the specimens. Chief among those was copper, which Manning explained stays behind as a "ghost of the biosynthesis and composition of eumelanin pigment, whose structure compares well with that mapped in living species."

Eumelanin is one of the coloring agents responsible for brown eyes and dark hair in many modern species, including humans. It would have been one of the factors that determined the birds' color patterns, along with structural properties of the birds' feathers and other pigments they ingested as part of their diets.
Just like revelations that the original colorings of Van Gogh paintings and Greek statues have changed or entirely disappeared over time, I wonder if any future chemical analysis will fundamentally alter the way we imagine dinosaurs - especially since we only have fossil fragments to make our images out of?

If my green Stegosaurus and blue and purple Brontosaurus toys have been lying to me all these years, I'm gonna be pissed.

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